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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Meet Generation Limbo

Generation iY, the kids born since 1990, are now graduating from college.  The youngest kids today, often called The Touch Screen Generation are beginning to graduate from middle school. These young people are considering their careers and wondering. They are finishing school (as graduates or not) and entering the adult world. The working world. And for millions—it isn’t working for them.
generation limbo

New census data casts a shadow over the long-term impact of the recession on America’s young people. In the last decade, the unemployment rate for youth spiked to the highest levels since World War II; 45% of American’s (ages 16-29) are jobless, a double-digit jump from the jobless rate in 2000. Faced with dark prospects, many young adults aren’t leaving home until their 30s. (The number of Americans aged 25-34 living with their parents jumped 25% during this recession.) Last month, The New York Times called these youth, “Generation Limbo.” After seeing the data, Harvard economist Richard Freeman took it further, saying, “These people will be scarred, and they will be called the ‘Lost Generation’ in that their careers would not be the same way if we had avoided this economic disaster.”

The last American “lost generation” was the kids who grew up during the Great Depression. Our world has seen several “lost generations” in the past century. Gertrude Stein first coined this term in the 1920s referring to Europeans who grew up during World War I. Today, it’s used to refer to Japanese youth who grew up during their recession in the 1990s. In Japan, the amount of youth sent to work at temporary or contract jobs doubled during that decade. This led to a mammoth suicide spike. According to author Mike Zielenziger, more than one million simply withdrew from society. They refuse to leave the protective walls of their bedrooms, or they pace the house or play video games, frightened to step out and take a risk.

I don’t know about you—but I plan to work to prevent this “generation limbo” from happening in our nation. These kids are not bad kids, but they’re growing up in tough times. History teaches us that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Some of the greatest inventions and leaders emerge during troubled times. Let’s seize the day and get these young people ready to do just that.

On Friday, I will offer a conversation topic to have with a young person that can help them approach their adult lives and careers with hope.



  1. karenbk on July 10, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Not only are our kids from this generation in limbo about their futures, they are graduating from college with astronomical loans that will require good jobs to pay off. I would like to hear some comments on ways we as educators can begin to combat this problem in elementary schools.

  2. In_limbo on July 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    What do we do to get out of this rut- this limbo? I am a 26 year old who still lives with my parents and I have kept working since I was 16. I just finished 2 years of college, that I couldn’t possibly have afforded if I had been on my own. I so want to be on my own but I have two major problems.

    The first is jobs. I can’t stay with a job more than a year or two. I get bored or sick of it and start looking for something more interesting. I’ve often had two or three jobs at a time because I couldn’t decide what I liked better, and I liked all the money it brought in, but it exhausted me fast.

    The second problem is money. It seems impossible to afford a place of my own with out working the three jobs night and day for the rest of my life. I’ve talked to many other people my age that have the same problem.

    • beechnut79 on June 13, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      It is cases like yours that inspired what I consider to be the correct acronym for limbo. I posted it above. Lower Income Mostly Beyond Overhaul.

  3. beechnut79 on June 13, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    From all the information provided I was able to come up with the perfect acronym for limbo. Lower Income Mostly Beyond Overhaul.

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Meet Generation Limbo